Since 2004, Alliance India has been a State Lead Partner of the Avahan India AIDS Initiative supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Avahan supports targeted HIV prevention programming for female sex workers (FSW), men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgenders in six Indian states. Currently, Alliance India is implementing HIV prevention program in five districts in Andhra Pradesh.
The meeting presented findings from two surveys conducted by Alliance
India in the state.
Sex workers and men who have sex with men
The first was a Behavioral Tracking Survey, which was undertaken to measure the major outcomes and impact of Avahan’s work. It was found that among FSW and MSM a significant correlation exists between community mobilization indicators and access to health services. Similarly, a strong correlation exists between alcohol consumption and risky sexual behavior. An increase in anal sex among FSW and MSM, along with misconceptions about the risks associated with it, was also found.
Barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health
The second study identified needs as well as barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services and information by FSW in Andhra Pradesh. It was found that consistent condom use with regular partners is low, and that two-thirds did not have control over the decision related to their pregnancy. Unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions and forced sex were also reported.
Alliance India also shared best practices in monitoring of program data using various technologies including mobile phones. The meeting also presented Alliance India’s work to support syndromic management of STIs using an innovative system of pre-packaging treatments in colour-coded kits to reduce human error. Initiated in 2004, this best practice was later adopted by the National AIDS Control Organization and is being implemented all across India.
The meeting was held on September 6, 2011 in Hyderabad. In attendance was the Project Director, Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society. In addition to the research presentations, the meeting allowed participants to discuss approaches that emerged from the findings. CBO participants were particularly engaged, actively contributing to the discussion and acknowledging the positive impact Alliance India’s Avahan programming is having on the lives of community members. One participant noted, “The meeting gave insights into how I can strengthen our HIV prevention activities using new technologies”.